Aliens – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Mark Pacis


Aliens, directed by James Cameron, is a masterpiece that transcends the boundaries of its predecessor, Alien. Its blend of thrilling action, compelling narrative, and deep thematic exploration makes it a timeless classic in sci-fi, resonating with audiences and critics alike. While Alien was a horror film with a slow build, Aliens shifted towards action-packed sequences without sacrificing the horror element. This change in tone and pace allowed the sequel to stand on its while respecting the original’s legacy. 

Cameron expands on Ridley Scott’s original vision by increasing the scale and intensity, shifting from the claustrophobic horror of a single alien to the adrenaline-pumped action of battling an entire hive. Sigourney Weaver’s performance as Ripley is powerful and nuanced, offering a rare blend of vulnerability and strength that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Not to mention, Ripley’s evolution from a survivor to a protector, especially in her relationship with Newt, adds emotional depth and humanizes the sci-fi narrative. At the same time, the supporting cast, including the Marines played by Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, and Bill Paxton, provide a dynamic range of personalities that enrich the story.

Yet, as I said before, James Cameron brings Aliens to another level. His direction in Aliens showcases a significant evolution in special effects and sound design. The film’s technical achievements are notable, with practical effects, miniatures, and creature suits that convincingly bring the terrifying xenomorphs to life. The atmospheric sound design and James Horner’s haunting score amplify the tension, creating a palpable dread that permeates the entire film. The action sequences, bolstered by innovative cinematography and robust sound effects, create an intense, visceral experience that has influenced many subsequent sci-fi films.

Overall, Aliens is a triumph of genre filmmaking. It blends suspense, horror, and action to create a sequel that honors its origins and is a cinematic masterpiece. The film is a testament to James Cameron’s vision and Sigourney Weaver’s performance. 

Movie Review: 5/5 atoms

Aliens - Michael Biehn, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein

Aliens hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR10 presentation with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The new 4K transfer of the film offers a crisper image, with improved contrast and deep blacks, adding a cinematic quality to the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The Dolby Vision brings brighter, more vibrant colors, especially in reds and blues, creating smooth transitions into purples and violets in certain scenes. Also, the picture offers a more natural color palette, shifting from the previous Blu-ray’s orange teal to a warmer mix of reds and blues. The detail is sharp throughout, showcasing the texture of uniforms, the colony’s environment, and facial features with remarkable clarity. However, some minor visual issues, like aliasing and the absence of film grain due to digital processing, are noticeable but don’t particularly impact the overall viewing experience.

Video Review: 4/5 atoms

Aliens - Carrie Henn

Aliens hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. Aliens‘ audio track is predominantly front-focused, with clear, well-prioritized dialogue that remains intelligible even during intense scenes. The soundstage is expansive, creating an immersive half-dome soundscape. It also has excellent channel separation and dynamic movement of background noises. With a broad and dynamic mid-range, the track captures detailed sounds such as explosions, gunfire, and vehicle movements. Atmospheric sounds like storms and xenomorph activities seamlessly transition across the sound field. James Horner’s score further enriches the atmosphere, spreading across the soundstage and drawing the audience deeper into the cinematic action. The robust bass adds impactful depth, enhancing the action with room-shaking effects.

Audio Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Aliens - Sigourney Weaver
Special Features

You can find the following bonus features on these discs:

Ultra HD and HD discs:
  • Theatrical and Special Edition versions of Aliens
  • Direct Access to New/Additional Scenes from Special Edition
  • 2003 Audio Commentary by James Cameron and the Cast and Crew
  • Final Theatrical Isolated Score
  • Composer’s Original Isolated Score
Bonus Features disc
  • The Inspiration and Design of Aliens
  • Superior Firepower: Making Aliens
    • 57 Years Later: Continuing the Story
    • Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction
    • Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization
    • This Time It’s War: Pinewood Studios, 1985
    • The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action
    • Bug Hunt: Creature Design
    • Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn
    • Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
    • The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound
    • The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects
    • Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film
  • Superior Firepower: Making Aliens Enhancement Pods
    • Without Sigourney Weaver
    • Origins of Acheron
    • Building Hadley’s Hope
    • Cameron’s Design Philosophy
    • Finding an Unused Power Plant
    • Cameron’s Military Interests
    • Working with Sigourney Weaver
    • The Importance of Being Bishop
    • Paul Reiser on Carter Burke
    • The Paxton/Cameron Connection
    • Becoming Vasquez
    • On Set: Infiltrating the Colony
    • Props: Personal Light Unit
    • Simon Atherton Talks Weapons
    • Praising Stan Winston
    • Test Footage: Chestburster
    • Fighting the Facehugger
    • Test Footage: Facehugger
    • Stan Winston’s Challenge
    • Test Footage: Queen Alien
    • Stan Winston’s Legacy Cameron’s Cutting Edge
    • Sigourney Weaver’s Triumph
    • Re-enlisting with Cameron
    • From Producer to Stunt Double
  • Pre-Production
    • Development: Original Treatment by James Cameron
    • Footage: Pre-visualizations: Multi-angle Videomatics (with audio commentary by miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung)
      • Angle 1: Videomatic
      • Angle 2: Videomatic/Final Shot Comparison
    • Pre-visualization: Storyboard Archive
    • Conceptual Art: The Art of Aliens
      • Gateway Station and Colony
      • Vehicles and Weapons
      • Aliens
    • Casting: Cast Portrait Gallery
  • Production
    • Photography
      • Production Image Galleries
        • Preparing for Filming
        • The Narcissus
        • Gateway Station
        • Colony Life
        • The Solaco
        • Arrival on Acheron
        • Main Colony Complex
        • Ripley Rescures Newt
        • Final Battle and Epilogue
      • Continuity Polaroids
      • Weapons and Vehicles
      • Stan Winston’s Workshop
    • Footage
      • Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras
      • Video Graphics Gallery
      • Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers
  • Post-Production and Aftermath
    • Footage
      • Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned
      • Deleted Scene Montage
    • Photography
      • Image Galleries
        • Visual Effects
        • Music Recordings
        • Premiere
        • Special Shoot
    • Miscellaneous
      • Laserdisc Archives
      • Main Title Exploration
      • Theatrical Trailers
        • Teaser Trailer
        • Theatrical Trailer
        • Domestic Trailer
        • International Trailer
Features Assessment

The 4K release of Aliens offers a comprehensive package of bonus features, including a new segment, “The Inspiration and Design of Aliens,” where James Cameron discusses his initial involvement, ideas, and various production challenges. It retains most extras from previous releases like the Alien Legacy and Alien Quadrilogy, except for a few specific items. The set also includes extensive content from the entire LaserDisc Archive. Missing features from the Alien Saga DVD are noted, suggesting fans keep earlier editions to have a complete collection. This 4K Ultra HD release provides a significant visual and auditory upgrade, aligning with the director’s vision, and is highly recommended for avid fans, though individual preferences may vary.

Special Features Review: 5/5 atoms

Overall, Aliens is one of the rare sequels that’s as memorable, thrilling, and impressive as its predecessor. To this day, it stands as one of the most outstanding and remarkable follow-ups to an already classic film. The video is stunningly impressive, and the Dolby Atmos track is nearly as demo-worthy as possible. Not to mention, this Ultra HD release features a comprehensive set of bonus features. Of course, keeping your box sets for the missing ones would be wise, but it’s still impressive that Disney put as much content in this release.

Overall Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Aliens is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was provided by Buena Vista Home Entertainment for review purposes.